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Monday, November 12, 2007

Insides and outsides

There is a very wise saying that you should not compare someone else's'outsides to your insides. Not your literal insides, but the deep dark insides of your mind and your life that make you look at things in others (their appearance, their clean house, their incredibly mindful children, their good job, their perfect boobs (threw that one in after a conversation I had yesterday with some friends), their fancy car...whatever it is) and think I could never do that, have that be good enough for that, etc. Whatever it is that allows self doubt to creep in when you compare someone's outsides to your insides.

Here's some wisdom I have learned about that:

1) There is someone in the world to whom you are the "outside". I PROMISE. There is someone who looks at you, and thinks all those wonderful things that you think about others and are convinced are not true of you, but to them, they are. You are that person they think they don't measure up to because they only see your outsides.

2) The path it took for some people to get those "outsides" is not one you would probably envy if you only knew. That person with an immaculately clean house may have been abused as a child if everything was not spotless, and they don't know how to live any other way. That person with the amazing huge house and fancy car may be up to her eyeballs in debt and worrying where the money for the next house payment will come from. The person with with those amazingly disciplined children may bribe them into it, or intimidate them into it, so that the compliance is real and physical, but not from the heart. The list of possibilities is endless, but I can tell you it is very real.

3) It may all be a matter of perspective.  Consider this.  Today, I could blog that...
A) I made my children a delightful breakfast of homemade oatmeal. And since we are cheerfully watching my neighbor all day too, I had five lovely young people happily enjoying their breakfast treat. After breakfast, I lit our 3-wick candle so we could all enjoy the scent, and went into Mimi's room to try on a bag full of clothes that my friend dropped of on our doorstep this morning. Then, I proceeded to work on the laundry while the kids enjoyed some play time. I've done 3 loads already today. Once I got the laundry going, I gathered all the children around, and I read aloud to the the next chapter in Betsy and Tacy go over the Big Hill. We discussed many differences between then and now, like the fact that the children dressed for "supper" including the girls neatly doing their hair. And they came home from school for "dinner" which is our lunch. They found it all very intriguing. After that, I got a butternut squash roasting in the oven, and got the kids situated at the sink taking turns peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes. They all happily helped out, even little Sari. While they did that, I got a pot roast going in the crock pot, and fed our composting worms all the scraps from our preparations. With the food work finished, they are now all outside playing until I call them for lunch.

OR
b) We had oatmeal for breakfast. Not the organic, rough hewn, really healthy for you stuff, but the publix quick cooking stuff (although it was REAL and not the packets full of sugar with some oats added in...BUT...).Then I sprinkled a heaping teaspoon of brown sugar in the bottom of the bowls and about 2 tablespoons of mini-chocolate chips on top. Yep, I'd prefer to sugar them up myself then let the oatmeal packets do it for me. We have my neighbor R today, and she wouldn't touch it...apparently chocolate chip oatmeal is just a little beyond normal for her, but here, it's a staple :-). Then I went into Mimi's room to try on the clothes K dropped off. At least, I assume it was K as they smell like her clothes smell, but I never actually saw her do it. I had to be careful where I walked in Mimi's room because the mess if so pervasive. In fact, her precious pearl is missing, and she thinks her brother may have it, but I will not even entertain the notion of asking him until she can prove it's not in her room under some pile of stuff. We tried on the clothes, and I was walking out to put the stuff I needed to get rid of or box up to grow into in boxes, when I found a RIVER of wax all over my dinning room table. Really, there is less water flowing in the Mississippi River than the wax flowing on my table. And since the wax pool was gone, the flames on the candle (a 3-wick) shot so high that the smoke detector went off. I dropped the clothes, blew out the candle, and attempted to stymie the flow of wax before it hit the floor. Whew! Just in time. After averting the catastrophe, and rebuilding the wall of the candle with soft wax, I re-lit it and we shall see if history repeats itself. They kids DID happily help out with the potatoes, and Sari rubbed down the cabinets with the magic eraser...yes, I KNOW about the e-mail and the skin burns, but she was rubbing the CABINET, not her face, so she did fine. I also let Mimi handle a chef's knife with a 9" blade to cut up the potatoes. She still has all her fingers, and she said, "I never knew this could be so fun" so I think it was a good experience. While we were in the kitchen finishing up though, Sari was outside with no shoes on, so I am sure her feet are awful. Oh, and it's way past lunch time, and here I am blogging instead of feeding the kids. AND, the ONLY school we've done today is reading one chapter of that book, and Scott doing his piano theory work...unless you count our homemaking endeavors.


My point? That both of the above are true. And neither is complete without the other. I have had an amazingly productive morning, but none of those loads of laundry is FOLDED yet...just lying flat in a HUGE pile for me to deal with. I am watching 5 kids, and it is no big deal to me, but I love R like she's my own, so it's not anything extra to have her here. I don't usually have mornings that make me look like little Suzy homemaker, so I love sharing that I had one today, but if this little snap shot was all you saw, I'd look pretty good. On the flip side, I don't usually have days where I almost burn the house down, and while that's an exception, the second story is much closer to our usual truth.


Don't compare your insides to ANYONE's insides, good, bad or otherwise. God has a plan specific to YOU, and He created you fearfully and wonderfully to carry out that plan. Since His plan for each of us is different, it is natural that the insides and the outsides of each of us will be different. Live for Him. Worry about what He thinks. Let the rest go. And next time you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop and compliment THEM. Tell them what impresses you. We are meant to be encouragers. And I bet they will encourage you right back...either with something you do that they admire, or with the reason they can do that thing, or have that thing, that appeals to you, and you will find it has a high cost that came from a trial God had for THEM to perfect THEIR faith. Rest in the knowledge that He loves you just as much, and He has given you exactly what YOU need for YOUR tasks.

Just a thought.

obm
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6 comments:

amy w. said...

i know i could never live in one of those "perfect neighborhoods" you know the ones where the lawns are perfect and all the cars fit in the nice neat garage doors and there isn't a sign of a child living in them....anywhere! i just am not that put together to live in those places. plus, i don't want to pay the fees to live there. i guess that is the point, you always have to pay w/something to live in a perfect place. i'll just stay in my "this is what i am able to to today" place. :>)

amy w. said...

i know i could never live in one of those "perfect neighborhoods" you know the ones where the lawns are perfect and all the cars fit in the nice neat garage doors and there isn't a sign of a child living in them....anywhere! i just am not that put together to live in those places. plus, i don't want to pay the fees to live there. i guess that is the point, you always have to pay w/something to live in a perfect place. i'll just stay in my "this is what i am able to to today" place. :>)

Melissa said...

Loved this blog - thanks!!

Tiffany said...

Well said--you are great at verbalizing these things. Thank you!

Lady G~ said...

Great entry! Reminds me of the song, Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns. It's one of my favorite songs. Then again, they are one of my favorite groups.

5Gustos said...

Thank you for this post. It is very encouraging to me. I love these peaks into your heart and mind, and you are very generous in letting us see the real you; I admire the courage it takes to do that. It is SO true that we each have no idea what our friends may have gone through during their life that made them the way they were. But God knows, and he loves us anyway!